Oak Ridge Boys Member Joe Bonsall Passed Away at 76

Joe Bonsall stepped away from touring in January 2024 following the progression of his ALS.

Sara Belcher - Author

Jul. 9 2024, Published 2:21 p.m. ET

Joe Bonsall on stage singing
Source: Getty Images

Longtime singer of the Oak Ridge Boys quartet, Joe Bonsall, passed away on July 8 at the age of 76. Joe was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Philadelphia Music Hall of Fame, the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, and was granted membership to the Grand Ole Opry.

His cause of death is directly related to his decision to retire from touring performances earlier in the year.

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Joe Bonsall, Duane Allen, William Lee Golden, and Richard Sterban of The Oak Ridge Boys
Source: Getty Images

Joe Bonsall, Duane Allen, William Lee Golden, and Richard Sterban of The Oak Ridge Boys

What was Joe Bonsall's cause of death?

According to USA Today, the tenor vocalist passed away from complications of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. Joe had already retired from touring with the Oak Ridge Boys earlier in the year as a result of the progression of the disease, with bluegrass and gospel performer Ben James taking his place in touring shows. At this time, there are no further details on his passing while his family and friends privately mourn.

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"It has been a great 50 years and I am thankful to all the Oak Ridge Boys, band, crew and staff for the constant love and support shown to me through it all," he told The Nashville Tennessean in January. "I will never forget, and for those of you who have been constantly holding me up in prayer."

Joe became part of the Oak Ridge Boys in 1973, holding his position in the group for five decades. Throughout Joe's tenure with the group, they began to focus more on the entertainment than the gospel of the quartet's original messaging, packaging their performances as a more mainstream country act. This helped to skyrocket the group to success, marked by 14 songs hitting the Top 10 Billboard Country charts.

In addition to music, Joe was also an author, penning 11 books (mostly children's books) and a memoir that's still scheduled to be published in November 2024. In lieu of a funeral, Joe has requested that donations be made to the ALS Association or the Vanderbilt Medical Center ALS and Neuroscience Research Center.


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